Inconsistent Reasons For Firing Constitute Pretext

A recent case determined that an employer’s varying rationale for terminating a manager showed “pretext” sufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment.

In Eades v. Brookdale Senior Living Inc., a 42 –year-old man, David Eades – was fired from his job at a senior living center. Eades subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and retaliation. A federal trial court granted summary judgment against him, and he appealed the claim of retaliation.

Title VII and other discrimination laws prohibit retaliation in the workplace. If you experience retaliation in the workplace, you are entitled to the same remedies as you have in an analogous discrimination case. It is important to note though, retaliation does not mean any type of retaliatory conduct by your employer. Retaliation means you complained about discriminatory conduct in the workplace and you were retaliated against as a result.

Here, the company presented a variety of reasons for terminating Eades including that Eades stated he could no longer work at the company and requested a severance package, that he was fired for performance problems, that he kept a severance package from a former employer, and that he rejected the severance package he was offered.

Although the company’s explanation may or may not lead to an ultimate conclusion that it retaliated against Eades, as noted by Judge John R. Gibson, “Shifting justifications over time call the credibility of those justifications into question.” As a result, the alternating excuses behind Eades termination created a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to preclude summary judgment.”

The bottom line – making up various excuses for adverse employment actions may be a red flag that your employer has acted inappropriately and violated anti-discrimination and retaliation laws.

If you have been terminated or suffered an adverse employment action as the result of discrimination or participating in a protected activity, you may have a claim for employment discrimination or retaliation. For more information, contact Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, a Georgia Law Firm dedicated to protecting employee’s rights.